5 Teams Rasheed Wallace Could Benefit as Assistant Coach During 2014-15 Season
Rasheed Wallace's time with the Detroit Pistons has come to a close.
The 39-year-old, who spent the prime of his career suiting up for the defensively oriented Detroit teams of the mid-2000s, served as a Pistons assistant coach during the 2013-14 season, specializing in player development.
But according to Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News, 'Sheed won't be brought back for the 2014-15 campaign.
"Pistons formally announce Malone, Beyer and Klask to the coaching staff," Goodwill tweeted. "Rasheed Wallace, Bernard Smith and Henry Bibby won't be retained."
If you want to shed a tear, I don't blame you.
Detroit and Wallace go together like peanut butter and jelly, but the divorce has been completed. Now Wallace will be looking for more work, assuming he wants to stay in coaching rather than pursue some other venture.
And as Bleacher Report's Stephen Babb wrote shortly after the news was announced, Wallace could continue using gigs as an assistant as a springboard to moving one seat over down the road:
Wallace may need to latch on with another team for a longer stint as an assistant before he’s viewed as a viable head coaching candidate. Still, an NBA landscape with Sheed as a head coach is a reality we should all hope to experience.
So, what's the next step in this colorful personality's NBA journey? We can only hope it takes place in one of these next five locations, as each franchise could use Wallace's ability to develop the shooting, interior scoring and defensive presence of their big men.
The Charlotte Hornets have two big men who could certainly benefit from Wallace's tutelage.
Al Jefferson might be set in his ways on the offensive end, but that's not exactly problematic. The center has become a true master of that left block, forcing entire defensive schemes to center around preventing him from touching the ball in his sweet spot. Despite his lack of athleticism, he's a master of every post move imaginable, displaying the fancy footwork necessary to be one of the best scoring bigs in the Association.
Wallace isn't suddenly going to make the mid-range jumper a more prominent part of Jefferson's game. They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, and Big Al is already going to turn 30 during the middle of the 2014-15 season.
But defense is a different story.
First-year head coach Steve Clifford started making Jefferson into a more competent point-preventing big man, and Wallace could certainly help continue that trend.
And he could do so while helping Cody Zeller develop. Mid-range shooting was always going to be a part of the Indiana product's game, even if he didn't excel there while a member of the Hoosiers. The college game, with the shortened three-point arc, was just too compact.
But during his rookie season, it wasn't there.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, Zeller knocked down only 27.3 percent of his 132 looks from between 16 feet and the three-point zone. Obviously, he could use a bit of help.
If the Cleveland Cavaliers hope to turn their franchise around and make the playoffs for the first time since LeBron James took his talents to South Beach, they have to follow one of two paths.
First, LeBron could come back. That's simple enough, even if it feels rather unlikely.
Second, the organization could place an extreme emphasis on player development, and that's where Wallace comes in. There are plenty of big men who already need help on this roster, especially if last year's No. 1 pick is going to settle in at power forward.
Anthony Bennett's primary problem was that he couldn't shoot. He finished his rookie season knocking down 35.6 percent of his attempts from the field and 24.5 percent from beyond the arc. Those numbers actually represented improvements over his play early in in the 2013-14 campaign, as he was 1-of-21 through his first seven appearances.
Then there's Tristan Thompson, whose improvement stagnated when his jumper stopped falling. The Texas product did a nice job expanding his range during his sophomore campaign, but the followup season didn't go so well, even though switching his shooting hand during the offseason appeared to be working prior to the start of the year.
And let's not forget about Joel Embiid, who could very well end up being the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA draft. The Jayhawk standout has undeniably impressive footwork, but he could stand to learn a few tricks from Wallace.
Andre Drummond would agree that it's possible to learn from the tutor, via Sports on Earth’s Howard Megdal:
He’s definitely been a big help for me. He’s taught me a lot. My back-to-the-basket game is getting better. I've learned a lot of moves that before, I wasn't doing. … I did a drop-step spin move into a layup. I haven’t done that, ever. It’s working on things like that, that get me really excited.
Whether the Cavs draft Embiid or opt for one of the elite forwards (Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins), there will be players who can learn from 'Sheed.
Kenneth Faried was absolutely fantastic when, during the second half of the 2013-14 campaign, the power forward bought into Denver head coach Brian Shaw's system.
After the All-Star break came and went, the Manimal averaged 18.8 points, 10.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game while shooting 54.6 percent from the field. If he can post those before the break, there might not be any time off for him in mid-February next year.
But Faried was still missing two things from his arsenal—elite defense and a reliable jumper. He attempted zero three-pointers after the All-Star Game (and only three before it), and his mid-range game was nearly nonexistent.
Given the context of this article, you can probably guess a certain unemployed coach who could help fix things.
But just in case you're struggling, it would be Wallace.
Faried does have the tools necessary to excel on the defensive end, so long as he receives the right kind of tutelage. He's a hard-working big man with plenty of athleticism, and that comes in the form of both vertical leaps and lateral quickness. The Morehead State standout looks the part of an elite defender, but he just hasn't blossomed into one quite yet.
The only question is whether the constant scowl and the ever-present smile would be able to coexist.
New Orleans Pelicans
There are two plays that stand out above all the rest when thinking back on Anthony Davis' sophomore season.
The first came against LaMarcus Aldridge, when "The Brow" used his ridiculous combination of wingspan, timing and athletic ability to block one of the Portland Trail Blazer's fadeaway jumpers on the baseline. I honestly can't remember seeing anyone else do that.
But the other came during overtime against the Boston Celtics on March 16.
Davis finished that victory with a sensational line—40 points, 21 rebounds, three assists, one steal and three blocks on 14-of-22 shooting from the field. But no play stood out more than his final attempt in the fourth quarter.
With five seconds left, the game was tied at 110, and the New Orleans Pelicans had enough confidence in Davis' mid-range shooting to give him the ball. And he didn't let them down, knocking down a contested 17-footer to give his team a two-point lead.
Davis has all the tools necessary to be great in every facet of the game, but all superstars need help along the way. He's shown off all the skills necessary to be a great defender and a knock-down shooter, but there are subtle nuances to the game that he's still missing.
A veteran presence in his ear would go a long way.
If I had my druthers, I'd wanna hear 'Sheed making pelican calls throughout the 2014-15 campaign, helping give Davis the skills and toughness that he needs. If anyone is capable of helping The Brow develop the mean streak he's lacking, it would be the former Pistons player and assistant.
There's one glaring issue here.
The volatility of having Wallace and DeMarcus Cousins in the same organization might be too much for the Sacramento Kings to handle. It would seem almost certain that one of the two would explode at some point during their time together.
After all, 'Sheed is the all-time leader in technical fouls, and Boogie is one of the more emotional players in the NBA. Cousins' ability to keep his head screwed on straight is routinely knocked...and for good reason.
Could they work together? Possibly, but it would be a risky move.
Fortunately, it could have a nice payoff.
Cousins is already one of the league's elite centers, but his defense is troublesome. According to 82games.com, he surrendered a player efficiency rating of 18.6 to opposing centers throughout his fourth go-round in the Association. And during the brief time he spent at power forward, he allowed opponents to post a 26.3 PER.
Is this a attitude thing? Is it something stemming from a technical flaw in Cousins' approach to the less-glamorous end of the court?
Frankly, it's a combination of both, and Boogie could stand to learn a few trade tricks from a man who used his physical tools to become an imposing defensive presence. Some work on Cousins' outside shooting wouldn't hurt either, as former Kentucky Wildcat product has shown flashes of three-point range throughout his young NBA career.
Sacramento has already seen Cousins develop into one of the top bigs in the NBA, but his development isn't done yet.